June 29, 2016
A good night's sleep is a major key to a productive life. Here are 5 steps to optimize your sleep.
Control exposure to light
- Exercise is as important to sleep as it is to a healthy body. It helps keep you more energized and awake during the day, helping your body's circadian rhythms stay in tune. It also helps you increase the amount of deep slow-wave sleep you get each night.
- Melatonin is the hormone that controls the body's circadian rhythm. The release of melatonin is controlled by exposure to light - your body produces more melatonin when it is dark and less when there is a lot of light. It is important to regulate your exposure to light in order to facilitate the melatonin release process.
- In the daytime -
- Make sure to get as much sunlight in as possible in the morning. If it's winter and sunlight is at a premium, you should try to work in bright settings. SAD lamps - lamps designed to mimic natural light - can also be used to mimic natural light very effectively, helping your circadian rhythm stay on track.
- In the night -
- Just like it is important to expose yourself to light in the morning, it is vital that you limit any exposure to light at night. You should avoid bright screens within the last hour or two before you sleep. This is not the easiest rule to follow, given how many people work on their laptops before they sleep. If you are on your laptop, it helps to use programs like f.lux that limit the harsh brightness of laptop screens and make it easier to fall asleep.
- Essentially, you want to wake up and work in a bright environment, and gently reduce the brightness until you go to sleep, where you want the room to be as dark as possible.
Pay attention to food and drink
Follow a schedule
- What you eat and drink has a large effect on the quality of your sleep. Eating large meals in the nighttime can hamper your body's ability to get a peaceful sleep. Try to eat dinner earlier in the evening, and also avoid foods that can cause acidity or heartburn.
- Avoid drinking caffeine after 3pm. This is a general rule, as different people have different tolerances to caffeine, so you might be able drink caffeine later than this.
- Alcohol and nicotine should be treated in the same manner. It might seem as though alcohol makes you fall asleep quite well, but it actually affects your sleep cycles, and makes you miss out on the deeper sleep that is necessary for your body to truly rest.
- Keeping a consistent sleep schedule helps your body stay in tune with your circadian rhythm.
- Try to get up and sleep at the same time each day, even on the weekends. Sleeping in on the weekend might seem like an attractive prospect, but it creates jet lag-like symptoms that can ruin your sleep in the following days.
And perhaps the most important tip is to just be as comfortable as you can when you go to sleep. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress, comfortable sheets, and a comfortable pillow. Try to get rid of as much stress as you can - read a book, do some deep breathing, or maybe some gentle stretching. If you live in a noisy neighborhood, maybe get some earbuds to limit the noise.
Photos: Google images
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